report on greenhouse gas emissions
India is the third biggest greenhouse gas emitter with its contribution standing at 5.3 per cent behind countries like China and
the USA, the Government said in Lok Sabha on August 22, 2011. "As per current information available, the countries which are the
largest contributor, in percentage term regarding greenhouse gas emissions are China 19.5 per cent, USA 19.2 per cent, India 5.3 per
cent, Russia 5.1 per cent, Japan 3.6 per cent and Germany 2.6 per cent,"
Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said.
India's greenhouse gas emissions grew 58 per cent between 1994 and 2007,
official figures released on May 11, 2010 showed, underlining the country's growing
importance in the fight against climate change. Emissions rose to 1.9 billion tonnes in 2007 versus 1.2 billion in 1994, with
the industrial and transport sectors upping their share in Asia's third largest
economy and confirming India's ranking among the world's top five carbon
polluters. By way of comparison, between 1994 and 2007, India added more than the entire emissions produced annually by Australia.
Figures in the government report, released by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
at a conference in New Delhi, show India is closing in on Russia, now the
world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, at nearly 2.2 billion tonnes in
2007. India has also set a carbon intensity reduction target of 20 to 25 per cent by
2020 from 2005 levels.
New studies on greenhouse pollutants
According to a series of six papers appearing on November. 25, 2009 in the British journal The
Lancet, cutting greenhouse pollutants could directly save millions of lives worldwide
Analyses show global health benefits from cutting ozone and black carbon.
Tackling climate change by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
emissions will have major direct health benefits in addition to reducing the
risk of climate change, especially in low-income countries.
Two University of California, Berkeley, authors of the papers - Kirk R. Smith,
professor of global environmental health, and Michael Jerrett, associate
professor of environmental health sciences - will discuss the results at EST press conference in Washington, D.C.
The studies, three of them coauthored by Smith and one coauthored by
Jerrett, use case studies to demonstrate the co-benefits of tackling climate change in
four sectors: electricity generation, household energy use, transportation, and food and agriculture. Climate change due to emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel energy sources causes air pollution by increasing
ground-level ozone and concentrations of fine particulate matter. The studies were commissioned by the NIEHS, part of the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), in part to help inform discussions next month at the U.N.
Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen. The NIEHS is one of the
key sponsors of the international event.
for global climate treaty
U.N. gathering on September 23, 2009 and the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh was
an attempt to pressure rich nations to commit to a global climate treaty at
Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, and to pay for poorer nations to burn less
coal and preserve their forests.With a mere 76 days to go before the pivotal conference, it appeared an interim
agreement might be the most that could be expected in December, leaving difficult details for later talks.
"We are on the path to failure if we continue to act as we have," French
President Nicolas Sarkozy cautioned. Much attention was fixed on Obama's first U.N. speech, in which he pledged the
United States is "determined to act." "The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing,"
Obama said, after receiving loud applause. "And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out."
Many chemical compounds found in the Earths atmosphere act as greenhouse gases. These gases allow sunlight to enter the atmosphere freely.
When sunlight strikes the Earths surface, some of it is reflected back towards
space as infrared radiation (heat). Greenhouse gases absorb this infrared radiation and trap the heat in the atmosphere.
Over time, the amount of energy sent from the sun to the Earths surface should be about the same as the amount of energy radiated back
into space, leaving the temperature of the Earths surface roughly constant. Many gases exhibit these greenhouse properties.
Some of them occur in nature (water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide), while others are exclusively human-made (like gases used for aerosols).
Greenhouse gases naturally blanket the Earth and keep it about 33 degrees
Celsius warmer than it would be without these gases in the atmosphere. This is
called the Greenhouse Effect. Over the past century, the Earth has increased
in temperature by about .5 degrees Celsius and many scientists believe this is
because of an increase in concentration of the main greenhouse gases: carbon
dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorocarbons. People are now calling this
climate change over the past century the beginning of Global Warming. Fears are that if people keep producing such gases at increasing rates, the results
will be negative in nature, such as more severe floods and droughts, increasing
prevalence of insects, sea levels rising, and Earth's precipitation may be
redistributed. These changes to the environment will most likely cause
negative effects on society, such as lower health and decreasing economic
development. However, some scientists argue that the global warming we are
experiencing now is a natural phenomenon, and is part of Earth's natural cycle.
Presently, nobody can prove if either theory is correct, but one thing is
certain; the world has been emitting greenhouse gases at extremely high rates
and has shown only small signs of reducing emissions until the last few years.
After the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the world has finally taken the first step in
The Greenhouse Effect
The "greenhouse effect" is the heating of the Earth due to the presence of greenhouse gases. It is named this way because of a similar effect produced by
the glass panes of a greenhouse. Shorter-wavelength solar radiation from the
sun passes through Earth's atmosphere, then is absorbed by the surface of the
Earth, causing it to warm. Part of the absorbed energy is then reradiated back
to the atmosphere as long wave infrared radiation. Little of this long wave
radiation escapes back into space; the radiation cannot pass through the
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases selectively transmit
the infrared waves, trapping some and allowing some to pass through into
space. The greenhouse gases absorb these waves and reemits the waves downward, causing
the lower atmosphere to warm.
The main greenhouse gases are:
Atmospheric Levels of greenhouse gases is Increasing
Levels of several important greenhouse gases have increased by about 25 percent since large-scale industrialization began around 150 years ago
During the past 20 years, about three-quarters of human-made carbon dioxide emissions were from burning fossil fuels.
Trends in Atmospheric Concentrations and Anthropogenic Emissions of Carbon Dioxide
Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are naturally regulated by numerous processes collectively known as the carbon cycle.
The movement of carbon between the atmosphere and the land and oceans is dominated by natural processes, such as plant photosynthesis. While these natural processes can absorb some of
the net 6.1 billion metric tons of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions produced each year (measured in carbon equivalent terms), an estimated 3.2 billion metric tons is added to the atmosphere annually. The Earths positive imbalance between
emissions and absorption results in the continuing growth in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The Effect of
Greenhouse Gases have on Climate Change
Naturally, if there are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, this
greenhouse effect will be more significant and raise the temperature of Earth
more than if humans didn't emit as much greenhouse gases. Given the natural variability of the Earths climate, it is difficult to determine the extent of change that humans cause.
In computer-based models, rising concentrations of greenhouse gases generally produce an increase in the average temperature of the Earth. Rising temperatures may, in turn,
produce changes in weather, sea levels, and land use patterns, commonly referred to as climate change.
Assessments generally suggest that the Earth's climate has warmed over the past century and that human activity affecting the atmosphere is likely an important driving factor. A National Research Council study dated May 2001
stated, Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earths atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and sub-surface ocean temperatures to rise.
Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability.
However, there is uncertainty in how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of
greenhouse gases. Making progress in reducing uncertainties in projections of future climate will require better awareness and understanding of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the behavior of the climate system.
The Sources of Greenhouse Gases In the U.S., our greenhouse gas emissions come mostly from energy use. These are driven largely by economic growth, fuel used for electricity
generation, and weather patterns affecting heating and cooling needs. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, resulting from petroleum and natural gas, represent 82 percent of total U.S. human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
The connection between energy use and carbon dioxide emissions is explored in the box on the reverse side .
Another greenhouse gas, methane, comes from landfills, coal mines, oil and gas operations, and agriculture; it represents 9 percent of total emissions. Nitrous oxide (5 percent of total emissions), meanwhile, is
emitted from burning fossil fuels and through the use of certain fertilizers and industrial processes. Human-made gases (2 percent of total
emissions) are released as byproducts of industrial processes and through leakage.
Effects of Global Warming on Society
Agriculturally, Dr. Sylvan H. Wittwer believes that global warming is good for the human race, because it helps increase food production. "The most
determinant factor in agriculture production is climate. History reveals that
for food production, warming is better than cooling." Dr. Wittwer says that
carbon dioxide is an essential nutrient for the production of food, and food is
one of the most important things in our lives. As the temperature rises, more
farmland will be open towards the poles and the length of the growing season
will also lengthen. With all the people who go hungry each day, Dr. Wittwer
believes food production should be one of our main concerns. Dr. Wittwer is the
scientific pioneer who conducted the original studies on atmospheric CO2
enhancement of the production of food crops. Increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global warming
could also lead to more health concerns. A statement released from the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said, "Climate change is likely
to have wide-ranging and mostly adverse impacts on human health, with
significant loss of life." As temperatures increase towards the poles, similar
to farmland, insects and other pests migrate towards Earth's poles. These
insects and pests could be allowed to migrate up to 550 Km or 550 miles. Some
insects carry diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Thus, an increase in
these particular insects and pests closer to the poles results in an increase in
these diseases. This could lead to 50 to 80 million additional cases of Malaria
annually, a 10-15% increase. "Malaria and dengue fever are already beginning to
spread pole wards", said Jane Lubchenco, past president of American Association
for the advancement of science.
Cities and Climate Change
Speaking on the theme "Cities and Climate Change" Brinda Sastry said, "While cities occupy only two per cent of the surface area, they are
responsible for 75 per cent of energy consumption and 80 per cent of
greenhouse gas emissions." To combat this, the cities need to be planned in a sustainable and green way, which can be done by sharing
knowledge between government, city planners, civil societies and scientific communities.
The Prospect for Future Emissions
World carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase by 1.9 percent annually between 2001 and 2025 Much of the increase in these emissions is expected
to occur in the developing world where emerging economies, such as China and India, fuel economic development with fossil energy. Developing countries
emissions are expected to grow above the world average at 2.7 percent annually between 2001 and 2025; and surpass emissions of industrialized countries near 2018.
The U.S. produces about 25 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels; primarily because
our economy is the largest in the world and we meet 85 percent of our energy needs through burning fossil
fuels. The U.S. is projected to lower its carbon intensity by 25 percent from 2001 to 2025, and remain below the world average.